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Blasting at wrong target

Don Rogers

While we’re all piling on Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aron for that sinful $8 million bonus paying out this summer, just a couple of questions:

n How much do we think the ski company’s top dog raked in after good seasons in yesteryear? Eight million over the five years it took to earn it likely is a pittance by comparison.

Remember, before the company was publicly traded, there was no need to report these tidbits to the SEC. In short, the big guy didn’t have to tell how much he got in bonuses in those days.

n Which of us outraged critics would give the money back? Step right up.

Thought so.

Resent the payout all you like. Then get the education, experience, smarts and yes, some luck, and strive to do the same. The large-company culture happens to be such that the demand for strong CEOs means big bucks to hang on to them. The skill set required for lift ops and even ski patrol is considerably more common. They have their rewards, for sure, but not in high wages.

An irony is that the $8 million represents success for the community, as well as the CEO at the helm. Imagine if Aron didn’t reap the reward of hitting goals set for him by the folks who hired him? Go check out the struggles in Steamboat, Crested Butte or Telluride if you like.

The company’s ski resorts crowd any top 10 list in North America for quality, with Vail leading the way.

Vail Resorts has weathered Y2K, recession, 9/11, war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq, “peace” in Iraq better than most, as have our communities. Sure, there’s been pain, and painful cuts – from the executive suites on through the ranks. Still, others have cut deeper.

Aron didn’t pay himself. He was hired, with goals placed in front of him to achieve. After ski season 2001, the company’s best ever, he was rewarded with the bonus that paid out last summer.

Of course, fueling the current rage is the fact things haven’t been all that great these past few seasons. The company struggles to maintain cash flow, the stock price plummeted, raises were meager, and the vast bulk of service jobs in the company are not high-paying in the best of times. There’s bound to be resentment.

And it’s hard to holler at a system, which in this case produced Bernie Ebbers among other thieves along with their solid citizen brethren CEOs who just happen to benefit with outrageous sums, even more than ballplayers and B-level movie stars.

If life were fair, lift ops no doubt would earn about what they earn now. Our educators, physicians, district attorneys, police, firefighters, farmers and such would make the most of all.

The bonus is appalling. But that’s not Adam Aron’s fault.

D.R.


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